The Mont Sainte-Victoire that culminates at 1011m, is a symbol of Provence, like Mont Ventoux and Sainte-Baume. It’s also a muse of Cézanne.

Mont Sainte-Victoire

The favorite model of the painter

The Mont Sainte-Victoire is world famous for being the favorite model of the painter Cézanne who immortalized it on more than 80 canvases. Today, you can hike to discover the painter’s favorite places or visit his studio left as it was since his death. Installed on the Var foothills of the Sainte Victoire massif, Pourrières is the typical Provençal village, in the heart of which Cézanne came on summer vacation with his grandparents.

Mont Sainte-Victoire

A highly symbolic value for Cezanne

At the start of the 20th century, Cézanne’s life was turned upside down. After the death of his father in 1886, his marriage to Hortense Fiquet, his lifelong companion who remained in the shadows for more than ten years, the death of Monticelli, he had to resign himself to losing the Jas de Bouffan and find a suitable place to his love of nature. This is also the time when he compares himself to Moses. He approaches the Promised Land until he sees it but will not enter it. The rest of his work, developed in his workshop in Les Lauves, acquired in 1902, north of Aix en Provence, will complete all his research in style. A bearer of new ideas at the dawn of a new era for mankind, Cézanne set himself the goal of unlocking the secret of the Mont Sainte-Victoire, a site of highly symbolic value for him and for the inhabitants of the region. Carrying the wildest hopes, ready to receive the honors and audacity of a painter of genius, Mont Sainte-Victoire represents, as Gilles Plazy underlines, « the place of ascent, it is the imposing nature which only gives itself ‘to those who conquer it, it is this eminence which dominates a city and a countryside but whose summit seems far away…’. Ideally located at the western gates of Provence Verte & Verdon, it offers direct access to Aix en Provence and Marseille. Its naturally protected environment opens to the north on the Sainte Victoire massif and to the south on an expanse, as far as the eye can see, of vineyards.

Mont Sainte-Victoire

A religious heritage

A walking site, it can be explored by all its paths punctuated by terraces. The religious heritage offers several stages for your hikes: the Sainte-Victoire priory, built in the 17th century, the Saint-Ser Hermitage, a marvelous landscape of Provence around a small chapel built in the extension of a cave to perpetuate the memory of a 5th century hermit who came to seek refuge in these places, the Croix de Provence, perched on the western tip of the massif. At the Pic des Mouches, the highest point, an extraordinary panorama embraces the horizons of Provence and the rolling plains of the Pays d’Aix. On a clear day, you can see the sea, Mont Ventoux and the Alps. To admire the two faces of Sainte-Victoire, follow the road that circles the mountain. On the south side, the sharp walls dominate the Bassin de l’Arc. To the north, the relief gently lowers into a series of limestone plateaus: Bibémus, le Cengle and Pallières.

Superb views

Superb views, departures for walks, charming villages follow one another: Tholonet, Beaurecueil (the most beautiful view of the mountain) and Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon bathed in nature, Puyloubier and Pourrières surrounded by vineyards, Vauvenargues stretched along a verdant valley. This monastery built in the 17th century was inhabited by monks and then hermits. The association “Les Amis de Sainte-Victoire” created in 1955 became the owner to restore it. Le Prieuré and its refuge limited to 14 beds are open to all. The rules of Knowing how to live together are posted there. To ensure the management of this emblematic site, the Priory is closed for a few days each month. Find out more before planning a climb on http://www.amisdesaintevictoire.asso.fr To get there, leave your vehicle in the Venturiers car park on the Vauvenargues road and take the GR9 (2 hours to climb).

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